In the campaign I am DM-ing, I have created an Atlantis-like underwater city, and to get there I need my players characters to travel under water, and naturally they will need to breathe.

Currently they are only level 3, this is just something I am planning for down the road - they shouldn't reach the city for a while yet.

Ideally I would like to be able to have them use the spell Water Breathing, but unfortunately none of the players qualify to learn that spell, as our only spellcasters are warlocks and a cleric.

I'm wondering if there's any way of enabling one of the warlocks (or the cleric, though with them being forge domain it seems unfitting) to cast the spell? I considered a scroll, but they would need to use it on multiple occasions if the quest goes how I anticipate, so that doesn't work.

I'm open to other options, but the spell would probably be my ideal solution.

If there is nothing within the official rules that would allow them to do it, has anyone come up with an effective homebrew solution to this?


Since you are planning ahead, and be warned players and long term players "Gang aft a-gley", then you need to give them lots of opportunities to pick up an item, or a cap, or be permanently enchanted by a water nymph.

These are best done as side quests, in which the apparent side quest doesn't reveal your plans.

So, the river has stopped flowing in a village. The villagers are afraid, since the water nymph Gladys has always kept the water clean and free of monsters. Jaco the pig farmer swears he's seen a troll, but he's a notorious liar. Could they help, it's worth one of Jaco's pigs and as much free lodging they ever need here?

The nymph will be found near a hole in the river bed where the water is pouring down into a dark cavern below. She is dying. "Help me, kill the troll and her evil magic will end and I can seal the hole. It'll be deep and dark that water, let me cast a protective charm upon you.."

Down they go, I suggest ropes.. and it's a dark deep lake, at the bottom of which they can just make out by the light of luminescent rocks a water troll cackling and chewing on a pig carcass. "Ah ha my pretties" she gloats, " you can't get me here, your lungs will explode and your brains will be mine to suck out of your ears".

The players should then make suitable rejoinders, a fight should ensue (remember that crushing/slashing weapons might take a disadvantage to attack underwater whereas piercing weapons are fine. No need to swim, they can breathe!

Gladys says thanks, and rewards them by making the ability to breathe underwater permanent. They get a pig from Jaco, and they can sleep at the village whenever they want.

Fun, short evening game, and your dastardly needs are met.

  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ Or she doesnt make the charm permanent but makes it clear the players are now friends. It's up to the players to remember her later \$\endgroup\$ – Patrice Feb 10 '18 at 18:07

The spell water breathing has the ritual tag. A warlock with Pact of the Tome and the invocation Book of Ancient Secrets can write it down and cast it as a ritual.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This would be a fantastic solution, but unfortunately the one warlock who has Pact of The Tome doesn't have the invocation. \$\endgroup\$ – goldboi Feb 9 '18 at 22:16
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @goldboi If they know that such an ability will be valuable, they might pick it up. They can switch out an invocation for another at every level-up. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Feb 9 '18 at 22:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, I didn't know that! That could be a perfect solution, thank you! \$\endgroup\$ – goldboi Feb 9 '18 at 22:21
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Note: probably won't be an issue, but if they're multiclassing, they can only swap out invocations on Warlock levels. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Feb 9 '18 at 22:28

If your warlock is not Pact of the Tome, or does not have the invocation (and if they have the tome, they really ought to take the invocation, because it is awesome for all sorts of things), the cap of water breathing is an uncommon item. Perhaps build a secondary adventure to collect some? You could have a previous set of adventurers who went seeking (something) in the bottom of a dangerous cove, wearing said caps, and all died beneath the waves. The players would then be able to go down via potions of water breathing (while dealing with the 1 hour time limit) or struggling with holding their breath and/or trying to do things from a boat. They get one adventure's worth of dealing with the awkwardness, and afterwards they have the caps and don't have to deal with it again. It'll make them appreciate it more when they get it.

If you want to mix things up a bit, cloaks of the manta ray would also work, and giving a few of each might give the party an interesting decision to make about who gets which one.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ May want to also suggest cape of manta Ray and list page numbers in dmg or links to dnd beyond. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 9 '18 at 22:19

Another option, which could work for any character of any class (who has a 13 Intelligence or higher), would be for someone to take the Ritual Caster feat at 4th level, choose Druid, Sorcerer, or Wizard, and then (once he is 5th level) get a scroll of Water Breathing and copy it into his ritual book.


If you're looking for the simplest by-the-book solution, and your warlocks are at least level 5, there's a new invocation in Xanathar's Guide called Gift of the Depths that literally allows a warlock to cast water breathing once per long rest.


Rather than answering the title question, I'm going to make a suggestion regarding your underlying problem about breathing underwater (also you do say "I'm open to other options"...)

I've been planning a very similar underwater adventure, involving helping out some sea elves with a problem.

The way I thought to solve the "how do the player characters all breathe underwater?" problem was to have the "questgiver" sea elf lend them a Cap of Water Breathing or a Cloak of the Manta Ray, each, which they would be expected to give back at the end of the quest (exchanged for better magic items, perhaps?), or you could just let the party keep them...

The Cloak of the Manta Ray in particular gives a swim speed so they would be able to "keep up" with the fast swimming creatures I plan on throwing at them.


I haven't engaged with 5e's magic item guidelines, but I'm assuming you, as the DM, can create magic items. A ring that allows the wearer to cast water breathing once per day would do the trick, as long as the party never splits so long they're not back together - or at least, back where there's air - at the time it needs to be recast. And hey, it gives you the opportunity to create some tension by splitting the party and reminding the group without the ring that their Water breathing wears off at sunrise...


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.